tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 23, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, crisis in korea. a deadly attack in one of the most dangerous parts of the world and now, there are fears of retaliation. some tough choices for the u.s. the last straw for a lot of air travelers. tonight, the tsa says there may be a better way to do the patdowns but tomorrow could be really frustrating. a vicious storm across a big part of our country and more weather that could impact holiday travel. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
a special good evening to our viewers joining us on the west coast tonight. we're covering what may be the largest confrontation of its kind since the korean war. tonight, south korea is threatening enormous retaliation after an attack by north korea. in a dangerous part of the world, where the chance of a nuclear confrontation already runs high on a good day. the first attack happened while most americans were sleeping. it was after midnight eastern time. the north fired a barrage of artillery at an island controlled by south korea. two soldiers were killed and after the volleys, reports of dozens of homes and buildings on fire. tonight, president obama has had his second major briefing of the day. he is calling the president of south korea this evening. president was sharply critical of the north in an interview tonight. we begin our reporting on all of this this evening with our chief foreign affairs correspondent,
andrea mitchell. >> this was basically an act of war. arguably, north korea's worst attack on civilian targets since the korean war. the big question tonight -- why did pyongyang do it and how will south korea respond? the crisis began routinely. 8:00 p.m. monday night, eastern time, south korea is engaging in a military drill after notifying the north. midnight eastern, four hours later, north korea starts firing dozens of rounds of artillery onto a highly-populated south korean island, killing two south koreans marines and injuring dozens more including civilians. for more than an hour, north korea unleashes a barrage of artillery, about 80 shells. south korea scrambled f-16 jets. returns fire almost immediately. 3:55 a.m., president obama is awakened by the national security adviser, tom donilon. 4:33 a.m., they issue a statement saying united states strongly condemns the attack and
calls on north korea to halt its belligerent action. 9:15, the director of national intelligence, kames clapper, briefed the president. the u.s. decides not to respond or escalate. urging south korea to show restraint. in seoul, south korea's president meets with his generals and threatens an enormous retaliation if the north attacks again. in fact, this is the second attack from the north in eight months. in march, pyongyang sank a south korean ship killing 46 sailors. is all this a show of strength? as north korea's ailing leader kim jong-il prepares to turn over power to his youngest son, kim jong-un. >> the younger kim is being encouraged to show that he can be strong. that he's a tough guy. and so, this is probably not the last such provocation we're going to see. and these are really acts of war. >> special u.s. envoy stephen bosworth, already in beijing, urged china to stop its aggression.
>> we strongly believe a multilateral diplomatic approach is the only way to realistically resolve the problems. >> reporter: china along with the u.s. signed the armistice agreement in 1953 that ended the korean war and is obligated to help the police cease-fire. but china has been reluctant. >> china is unlikely to do america's bidding but this latest situation puts beijing in a delicate position as an ally of north korea, it has considerable influence. but china is also concerned about regional stability and afraid of being overrun by refugees should north korea collapse. >> in recent days, north korea shocked the u.s. by revealing that despite tough sanctions it has built uranium enrichment plant. potentially capable of producing powerful atomic bombs. tonight in an interview with barbara walters for thanksgiving, president obama was asked about this. he called this a provocative act.
we strongly condemn the attack and we're rallying the international community to put pressure on north korea. brian? >> we're still in the beginning of this. we're watching closely. andrea mitchell, part of our team, thanks. let's remember there are almost 30,000 americans in uniform in south korea. the pentagon has a huge stake in the region and they are watching this closely. for more on that we go to our pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski, good evening. >> reporter: a senior pentagon official tells nbc news that, quote, the north korean attack is provocation that needs to be answered and will be answered. officials here suggest, however, that it would not be a direct military attack. but it could be a strong show of force. the united states aircraft carrier george washington left port from japan today as
previously scheduled. the carrier had been tapped to take part in exercises with the south korean navy in the yellow sea not far from today's attack. tonight, the un command in south korea issued a statement calling for talks with the north korean military. those talks which would be led by a u.s. army general, walter sharp, would have to be conduct conducted through the u.n. command because the united states doesn't directly negotiate with the koreans. this could mount to a safe phasing of way out in this conflict, brian. >> jim, thanks. and now to the view from the ground on the korean peninsula, ian williams just arrived in
in incheon tonight. ian, good evening. >> good evening, brian. hundreds of terrified civilians have continued to arrive here. they've been evacuated from that island by the military, though hundreds more remain hidden in bunkers there. reports from the island say that houses are still burning. the area is extremely tense but there have been no fresh reports of clashes today. civilians are being evacuated terrified civilians, hundreds of them, arriving here in incheon. others have taken shelters in bunkers, a network of bunkers across the island and the government report 5d,000 other civilians across a series of front-lying islands near north korea will also be evacuated as soon as possible, brian.
>> all right, ian williams, where morning is breaking there. ian, thanks. and with us here in our studios in new york tonight, a veteran of the white house, national security council and the state department, richard haass is president of foreign relations. how much does this worry you? how serious are we? >> it's serious given north korea has this growing nuclear arsenal. these support terrorism around the world. they are obviously using violence and the stakes are now house. asia is increasingly the center of international relations. if crisis starts here it could grow and bring the united states and china potentially into direct conflict. >> how does this work? are we consulting with the south koreans? or are we informed as to their intention, should they decide to retaliate? >> both in a funny sort of way. >> if there's a war on the peninsula, hundreds of thousands if not millions of south koreans would lose their lives.
even though lose their lives, even though north korea at the ends of the day would disappear as a sovereign country south korea has enormous amount at stake so it their decisions at the end of the day, so long as it's the peninsula-oriented attack. what can get tricky is if the problem is north korea, for example, were to transfer nuclear material to iran, we would have the biggest stake to prevent them from adding to the problem so there could be tension between the united states and seoul. >> i know information is hard to come by. what do you think is going on inside north korea? what caused this? and leadershipwise? >> probably one of two things and they are not mutually exclusive. either to strengthen the hands of the son who clearly will become the new leader or to raise the stakes so the united states and seoul will get back to the negotiating table. we've seen this sort of north korean jockeying before. >> you're watching this next 24 hours. what would give you hope that the lid is on? >> that north koreans don't do anything new. the south koreans don't retaliate. to be clear, i'm not saying south koreans should retaliate.
-- should not retaliate. i think there's a case for them to do something discrete, not unlimited, but discrete to send them the message that they cannot use military force with impunity. they don't want this to escalate. though have a lot to lose as to china. indeed, there will be no winners if this escalates. >> this is all been watching very closely. we're in a korea town neighborhood of los angeles tonight, miguel, good evening. >> brian, good evening. koreatown here in los angeles is home to the largest korean community anywhere in the country. some 200,000 korean-americans live here alone. news of the conflict spread quickly through this area as many have close ties, family and friends, who live in both south and north korea. today's news was shared in coffee shops and at corner
markets in this tight knit community, many getting their information not just from the media but from phone calls back home. after the korean consulate in los angeles condemned the attack earlier today, many community groups here in los angeles asked for a quick diplomatic solution to any problems overseas. the big fear tonight here, brian, as it is everywhere, this conflict could cost more lives. >> all right, miguel, thanks for that reporting. it is already wednesday in the asian markets and amanda of cnbc is here with us for a look at the impact if at all yet, on these markets. >> you know i was looking a moment ago, brian, at the markets in the region already opened and there's evidence of risk aversion, meaning the markets are down. however, but no means as viciously as we saw the reaction here today in the u.s. and part of the reason for that is, of course, we didn't understand the motivation and we still don't understand the motivation behind these attacks so people, essentially were like, shoot first ask questions later.
we saw is u.s. dollar up, the korean yuan down. a typical risk-aversion and we saw the u.s. treasuries rise and u.s.-traded korean shares take falls. today, of course, we're going through the process of trying to find out what happened. and keep in mind, korea has done this before. trying to get attention in the markets and usually the impact in the markets on stocks tends to be short lived. we'll just have to wait and see. >> amanda, thank you very much for that. this happened in a dangerous neighborhood in this world and we'll continue to watch it. we switch to a big important domestic story tonight and that's weather. it could complicate a lot of holiday travel plans. we begin in the pacific northwest in the deep freeze after a ferocious winter storm came on shore. jim foreman of king tv, our nbc station in seattle, has our report for us. >> good evening, brian. winter has come early here to the northwest and it's hit hard.
roads are closed. tens of thousands are still without power and some are being warned it could be friday before the lights are back on. seattle woke up this morning and quickly started digging out from an early-season storm which closed schools and businesses. for many, the job was assessing the damage and untangling the twisted metal from the hundreds of accidents reported across the region. >> this car just came sliding straight down and i was like, no, no, don't turn this way, keep going. >> reporter: just a dusting of snow can cripple seattle which has a lot of hills and usually doesn't get much snow. mass transit remains snarled as buses litter unplowed streets. >> people don't understand to slow down and take it easy. >> reporter: at the height of the storms tens of thousands of drivers were trapped on the interstates and rush hour stretching into a six-hour nightmare. >> it took me two and a half hours to go 1.4 miles.
>> reporter: blizzard conditions created whiteouts in spokane. in portlands with icy roads and three deaths in washington state. this kind of storm, this cold, this early in the season, could signal a very long winter for the pacific northwest. >> well, we're flirting with record low temperatures here, making it dangerous situation for those without heat and, brian, forecasters are warning, we could be dealing with snow on thanksgiving. >> the first big blast for the pacific northwest. jim, thanks for your coverage. jim foreman of king tv in seattle. about the thanksgiving forecast, our friend, janice huff, is here with us in our studios tonight with a look at that, good evening. >> it looks like things will improve for parts of the pacific northwest but it will take time were that happens. we're expecting cold conditions to continue there throughout the week. and that big storm that dumped all the heavy snow from seattle
to the sierra is moving east. tomorrow when you're traveling expect delays in the upper midwest due to winds, snow and ice and snow on the backside of that through the rockies. warm in the southern states with a few thunderstorms. the system is complex in the south and the mid mississippi river valley there will be some thunderstorms. in the east that's best. looks like the weather will improve across much of the east. if you're on the east coast, no problems for the weather, at least not until thursday night into friday with some rain. brian. >> janice huff, thanks. and when we continue in just a moment, if you think airport security is a bit too much right now, you might want to hear who's allowed to bypass security entirely. and later, the modern royal wedding that won't be straying too far from tradition.
but also, the skies. crowded as it is, every icon on this map is an aircraft going somewhere and this thanksgiving travel season, passengers are confronted with new security procedures at a lot of airports including those full body scans and full body patdowns. tomorrow may also include some slowdowns and we get more tonight from nbc's pete williams. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian good evening. the big test is for tomorrow with calls for passengers to opt out of those full body scanners and instead, demand patdowns which could clog up the system. it's a simple case of arithmetic. it takes about 30 seconds on average to go through a full body scanner but a patdown can take two or three minutes. multiply that by the high volume of passengers and it could seriously slow down the screening. that's what those calling for a national opt-out day pressuring tsa to back off the rules. >> the groping line might get longer but the x-ray line should be wide opened. so what we want to do is put
them in a position where they must accommodate travelers that refuse to be abused. >> homeland security officials urge passengers to get to the airport early, but some flyers are pushing back calling opt-out day an act of selfishness. >> it's all well and good to exercise your right to free speech but i think it's just cruel to exercise it in a way and on a day that's going to maximize the harm to innocent people. >> reporter: some are opting out for other reasons like this family, taking the train from new york to harrisburg, pennsylvania, concerned about how their autistic son would react to a patdown. >> we just thought it would be a nightmare, especially because kids like him don't like to be touched often. >> reporter: for now, the man in charge of the transportation security administration says he has no plans to back off the new procedures which he calls essential to keep something like an underwear bomb off airplanes but says the patdowns might be modified to make them less intrusive if testing shows they can be just as effective. >> i can't give a timeframe
other than to say we're doing this with all due haste and urgency because we know there's a lot of concerns and we know the terrorists are trying to kill us. >> reporter: of the 36 million passengers who have flown since the new rules went into effect, about 2,000 have filed complaints. but a new gallop poll says 71% of frequent flyers think the loss of privacy is worth it to prevent terrorism. >> pete williams at reagan national airport in washington. last weekend probably wasn't a great time for the incoming house speaker john boehner to get spotted by passing tsa security at that very same airport in washington. it was posted on the web and now, after reporters started asking a lot of questions the tsa has admitted a lot of government officials are exempt from the security we passengers have to go through at the airport. they can walk around it and board the plane. boehner is not alone. the list includes cabinet secretaries, leaders of congress, other top government officials. many of whom travel with their own security details.
people thought it would be. more from nbc's jim muceda. >> reporter: they may be young and modern but in the end, the future king and queen opted for tradition and spectacle to mark their wedding. choosing westminster abbey as the venue, a 2,000 seat icon of british royal history. where then, prin says elizabeth, william's grandmother married prince phillip more than 60 years ago and where henry the viii and queen victoria were crowned, the very site of princess diana's funeral. >> the lookers on say they think this wedding will be remembered as a national celebration. while the date, april 29th, the spring wedding they always wanted it, puts their starn on the event. >> we expect to see what we call ordinary people, real people who
have done real work in charities and doing work for others, attending this wedding. >> but they'll compete with european royalty and heads of states for seats. >> with rumors flying that this royal wedding will cost in the tens of millions of dollars, the royal family announced it would be pays for the wedding ceremony out of personal funds leaving the cost of the security to the british public. >> reporter: the future bride and groom are reportedly aware of these austere times but in the land where no one does weddings better, this royal show could be well worth the expense. jim muceda, nbc news, london. >> and we'll be right back with an update on our top story, this crisis in the korean peninsula.
we have an update now on our top story tonight. the world is waiting to see what south korea's next move might be after north korea unleashed a surprise artillery attack in what is the most serious confrontation between north and south since the korean war. president obama who met again tonight with the security team, said the u.s. will defend south korea. one of this nation's most important allies at this hour, the u.s. has not made any military moves or maneuvers in south korea.
we urge you to stay with nbc news for the latest on this story. there will be more on your late local news and, of course, tomorrow morning on "today" and back here on "nightly news" tomorrow evening. 24/7 information available, of course, on our website, email@example.com. i'm brian williams. no doubt about it. it is cold out there and this is just the start. good evening, everyone. i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm tom sinkovitz. the snow is already piling up in the sierra. skiers, snowboarders are thankful for that. it could be tricky getting there. jeff ranieri is tracking the freeze from our weather center. let's go live to be